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Technological change and society


We are witnessing a wave of technological developments – in communications (IoT, big data and blockchain), biology and chemistry (nano technologies), mechanics (robotics), and computer science (AI, edge and quantum computing) – that are profoundly affecting our societies, communities, and economies. In the workplace, autonomous and adaptive technologies open prospects of a new cycle of automation, impacting on the formation of attitudes, the allocation of resources and the exercise of power.

Technological change also generates new social, ethical, and legal questions in fields such as individual freedoms and human rights, competition and market structure, consumer protection or public health. And the COVID-19 pandemic has raised more questions than ever about the role of technology in crisis management.

We investigated these challenges with the aim to assist policy makers. Indeed, policy is the natural arena for interdisciplinary work, generating a common conceptual language and new insights across the fragmented research in the different social sciences. We adopted a global perspective but focused on the EU’s ability to play a leading role, while preserving its fundamental values.

Three main observations motivated our activities:

  • This technological change affects all spheres of society, from politics and media, to law, entertainment and culture, reshaping in particular the nature of work.
  • Development and deployment of technologies in different social contexts bring both opportunities and risks.
  • New technologies can be governed – through economic, social and legal instruments – to maximise benefits, control risks and observe fundamental values.

Event series organised by the Tech cluster

Our events engaged engineers and computer scientists, academics in social sciences and leaders from industry, government and civil society to discuss which current issues could benefit most from interdisciplinary investigation.

Frontier Talks

These events were lectures on cutting edge issues, with prominent scientists expert in disciplines not researched at the EUI (such as philosophy, physics, chemistry, computer science, etc.). A 60' lecture was followed by a 60' interaction with the audience. Following the talk, we issued a written report of the meeting that would be useful for academics, practitioners, and policymakers.

All of the prepared event memos are available in the 'Publications' section of this web page. 

Industry Talks

These events featured industry or government representatives sharing the experience of their organizations with technological innovation. We discussed the impact of technologies from the viewpoint of the “actors” effectively developing and/or implementing them. We also discussed how developers and adopters think about technological and societal risks arising from innovation. These meetings were open to EUI members only.

Policy Talks

These events were short lectures by experts on policy relevant issues: a 30' presentation is followed by 30' discussion with the audience.

Digital Coffee Meetings

This was a series of informal meetings featuring brief presentations, with non-technical language, by EUI members working on digital transition. With this series of meeting we intended to build a common knowledge within the EUI community of the many activities developed around digitization and its consequences. These meetings were open to EUI members only.

Technological Disputations

These were very informal meetings among EUI Tech Cluster members. The "proposer" of the topic/sentence had the floor first for 5-10 minutes, followed by the "discussant", with the same time allotment. This initial interaction would be managed as a dialogue, with opening statements and "rebuttals". We then opened the floor for discussion, which would be concluded by the discussant and the proposer, each with a brief wrap-up. Given the interdisciplinary aims of the group, we kept in mind to explain specific terminology we used, for better communication with people from other disciplines.

CIVICA Data Science Seminars

The Data Science Seminar series was a multi-disciplinary series that focused on applications and methodologies of data science for the social, political, and economic world. Its aim was to allow researchers to share original, new work or work in progress in order to get methodological or technical comments and suggestions. Shared among the partner institutions of the CIVICA network, this series directly addressed the data science research stream of the CIVICA initiative. More information

Study visits

The Tech cluster organised study visits to state-of-the-art facilities to learn first-hand about how technology is implemented in the workplace. On 14 October 2022, the group had a chance to visit the FCO1 Amazon Fulfilment Centre in Passo Corese (Rieti), one of the 10 fulfilment centres of Amazon in Italy and the first one with a robotics packaging area. On 19 January 2023, cluster members paid a visit to the leading energy technology company Baker Hughes in Florence. 

To find out more about all of the events, organised by the Technological change and society interdisciplinary research cluster, please visit the 'Events' section of this page. 

The Technological change and society interdisciplinary research cluster renewed its focus in studying the socio, economic, and political impact of digital technologies at the EUI in the form of the Digital transformations and society cluster

Other tech related activities at the EUI

All tech related events at the EUI

Tech cluster events archive (May 2020 - March 2021)

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